Born in New York and raised in Montreal, Common Holly (AKA Brigitte Naggar) puts unpredictable compositional elements into a singer-songwriter/folk framework, packaged in textured, eclectic electro-acoustic production. Her forthcoming album, Playing House, contemplates the notion that it is conscious thought and deliberate action that defines and cements maturation from child to adult.
‘If After All’ demonstrates Common Holly’s astonishing ability to structure and compose highly intelligent yet incredibly emotive songs. Beyond the compositional intricacy of each section, the real beauty and genius of the song can be found in how Naggar uses the meaning of the lyrics to mirror the structure of the music. Naggar sings about her difficulty moving forward from broken relationships, of attempting not to slip back into old vices but feeling hopelessly trapped in a cycle of failed recollection. She expresses a strong need to move forward, to progress and grow, a sentiment which is unmistakably mirrored in the way the music evolves within the track.
‘If After All’ consists of three distinct sections: First, a collage of playful and mechanic percussion fills, swirling guitar harmony and deliberate vocals. Each instrument is ostensibly independent of each other; yet, collectively, each part fits together to create an intentional musical illustration. The second section mellows into somewhat of a tempered Angel Olsen singing over a Godspeed You! Black Emperor string arrangement that slowly but brutally climbs towards its peak. It finds its climax in the third section, a Mitski (see: Your Best American Girl) or Radiohead (see: Paranoid Android) almost math rock finish.
At no other moment in the song does the parallel of lyric and structure become more evident than in the final seconds of the track. Despite the erratic sounds around her, Naggar remains calm, attempting to move forward but ultimately relapsing: “I will always forget, any way you spin it”.